Rahul Gandhi’s future: Congress mulling over PM nomination or Working President
New Delhi – The Congress Working Committee, the highest decision making body of the party, meets in the capital today ahead of an important gathering of party workers tomorrow that may see a major announcement about Rahul Gandhi.
Some party leaders caution that it’s incorrect to assume that Mr Gandhi, 43, will be declared their presumptive prime minister. They say the party is weighing three options carefully for Mr Gandhi, who is Vice President – conferring him as its prime ministerial candidate, promoting him to Working President, or declaring that he will lead the campaign for the national election that must be held by May.
On Tuesday, in his strongest hint yet that he may be willing to accept the prime ministerial nomination, Mr Gandhi, who is typically evasive about his future role, said in a rare interview, “I am a soldier of Congress. Whatever order is given to me I will follow it.” But he also stressed that the Congress does not traditionally announce prime ministerial candidates during a campaign.
Friday’s conclave will bring together thousands of party workers who will be addressed by the Prime Minister, Mr Gandhi, and his mother Sonia who is Congress president.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh this month ruled out serving another term even if the Congress defies expectations to win the election. Dr Singh endorsed Mr Gandhi for the country’s top job, praising his “outstanding credentials”.
Many party workers, including senior ministers, are pushing for Mr Gandhi’s name to be announced as prime ministerial candidate. A section of the party, however, thinks that would expose him to a confrontational campaign in which the advantage will lie with the BJP’s Narendra Modi, whose style is more combative and dynamic.
Mr Gandhi led the Congress campaign in the recent elections for five states, including Delhi, but the party’s showing was dismal. The BJP’s popularity surged in states where it’s already in power, and after 15 years of governing Delhi, the Congress was cornered to third spot there largely by Arvind Kejriwal’s political start-up, the Aam Aadmi Party.